You know your kids need sleep. You learned how vital it is to future wellbeing and health. You’ve witnessed how everything gets off track when your kids don’t get enough sleep. Yet so many of us ask ourselves at least once a week “How much sleep do kids need?”
Why can’t we remember? Well, there are some very good reasons.
We experience information overload all day long. This includes stuff we don’t even care about. Plus, sleep experts give us a range in terms of hours for each age group. Add to that, sleep-needs adjust to the rhythm of family life and seasons. Then there’s cultural pressure to ignore sleep because it’s not “productive”.
It is very easy to forget how much our kids need sleep and how many hours they do need.
Sleep is certainly universal – even plants sleep. Sleep is also personal. Our unique personalities, the day’s events, and the memories we carry affect our relationship to sleep.
What kind of sleep environments were we exposed to when we were kids ourselves? If you missed a parent tucking you in in night, for example, you might delay bedtime until a spouse working late can give that special hug.
Consider these things before you make that delayed bedtime a regular habit: sufficient sleep is central to how our kids grow, how successful they are in school, or whether they have a propensity for obesity or diabetes.
Now for the facts on how much sleep kids need.
The National Sleep Foundation revised the recommended hours of sleep in 2015. The surprise was this: most age groups had recommended sleep requirements increase.
For some age groups, sleep requirements increased as much as two hours a night. Read about the new sleep guidelines with a comparison to the old ones here.
Many sleep specialists tell anecdotes of families with a sleep crisis that are solved simply by increasing their knowledge of how much sleep their kids need. Stories of school-aged children who are perpetually exhausted. Why? They go to bed and wake up when the adults in the house go to bed and wake up. These are well-intentioned and caring parents. Maybe they delight in their children’s company so much bedtime is delayed!
But compare the recommendations by age. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Nine to 11 hours of sleep is recommended for school-aged children. Depending on the individual, a child could need as much as 4 more hours of sleep a night than the adults in the house for their best health. That’s twenty eight more hours of sleep a week!
Juggling our own sleep needs with our kids’ requirements can be confusing. So how do we figure this out plus remember it all?
Here’s where it gets really easy. Download these two pages and you’ll have everything you need to know to answer the question “How much sleep do kids need?”
Once you have them, you won’t need a smart phone or to bookmark a page on the internet.
The first page gives you the sleep requirements for every age group – toddlers up to older adults – and some old school clock faces to write in lights-out time and wake-up time. You can choose to print it out and use as a worksheet.
The second page is the Done for You! bedtime chart. It includes when to start a thirty-minute bedtime ritual, lights out, and a choice of wake-up times starting at 6 AM and ending at 7:30.
Bonus: Printing it out and posting it on the fridge might help with those “But all my friends stay up ‘til 11:30” arguments.